May 15 2018

All Piedmont residential electric service accounts are to be enrolled in alternative service plans depending on Council action Monday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m.

The City Council will consider enrolling all residential electric service accounts in Piedmont into either the Brilliant 100 Service Plan or the 100% Renewable Service Plan offered by East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) during its regular meeting on May 21, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. Doing so will be an important step in achieving the City’s climate action plan goals. Residents are encouraged to attend.

During its May 7th meeting, City Council received an informational report (http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2018-05-07/EBCEupdate.pdf) delineating the three service plans that (EBCE) is offering to its customers. Formed in 2017, EBCE is the community choice aggregate for participating jurisdictions throughout Alameda County. Electrical customers in these jurisdictions, including Piedmont, will receive cleaner, greener electricity, as well as local control over their energy supply through EBCE. Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) will still deliver the electricity, maintain the lines, and handle billing.

Both the Brilliant 100 and the 100% Renewable Energy service plans are completely carbon-free and will help Piedmont reach a goal in the recently passed Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2.0 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Should, the Council select it, the 100% Renewable Energy service plan would fulfill another goal of the CAP, which calls for 100% renewable energy as the default enrollment service plan for Piedmont residents.

EBCE has asked jurisdictions that wish to opt in their residential accounts to a service plan other than Bright Choice to make this decision by June 6th, 2018. If jurisdictions take no action, all residential electrical accounts will be automatically be enrolled in the Bright Choice service plan (85% carbon- free).

Regardless of the Council’s decision regarding the default, Piedmont residents and businesses will still have the option to enroll in any of the three EBCE service plans or to continue purchasing their electricity from PG&E by making that choice before or any time after the November launch of EBCE’s service.

Residents currently enrolled in PG&E’s assistance programs such as the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE), Medical Baseline, and the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) program will retain the same discounts when receiving EBCE service. Also, Piedmonters with on-site solar energy systems can be enrolled in any of EBCE’s three service plans starting in 2019. These customers will be enrolled in the month of or the month after they receive their 2019 annual True-Up Statement from PG&E. In regards to residential customers with rooftop solar energy systems, EBCE has indicated that at a minimum it will match the net energy metering offering provided by PG&E.

The agenda report for this item can be read HERE. 

Public testimony is invited and encouraged during the May 21st meeting. Written comments may be submitted in advance of the meeting to the City Clerk’s Office at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or by US Mail to City Clerk, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611. All comments submitted will become part of the public record.

The meeting will be televised live on KCOM-TV, the City’s government TV station, and will be available through streaming video on the City’s web site www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/video.

For more information on EBCE, please visit EBCE’s web site at https://ebce.org/, or contact Annie Henderson, Vice President of Marketing and Account Services for EBCE at ahenderson@ebce.org.

May 15 2018

What Should Be Done?

Pickleball? In My Neighborhood?

Residential neighborhoods are always looking for improvements to where they live through parks. Most residents find joy in seeing young children playing in the parks, or old friends coming together for a game of tennis. The residents near Linda Beach Park seem to want a noiseless neighborhood, despite the fact that they live just off a busy avenue.

On Monday, May 7th, I attended a City Council meeting to look over a 35% completed conceptual plan for the new Linda Beach Park remodel. This plan started in October and since then, the Groundworks team of Berkeley, led by architect and landscaper Will Smith, has met with the community multiple times to gather insight from the residents near Linda Beach Park about what they would like to see added or remodeled. The meeting last Monday was the second in a series of five meetings to perfect the plan.

Residents of Piedmont, specifically those who live near the park, all watched while the Groundworks team shared their plan and then one by one, shared their own ideas in front of the Council. I had to watch from the completely full overflow room because so many residents were interested in this new plan.

One topic that was widely discussed was the new pickleball courts the City was planning to implement in place of the tennis courts. Jim Landes, the head coach for the varsity tennis teams and a tennis coach for younger kids through his clinics, expressed his concerns for getting rid of the tennis courts at Linda Beach Park.

As a tennis player on the team, I spoke out with my support for keeping the courts at Linda as I have some memories of when I was younger playing on those courts and how the extra space to play is useful to all ages of players.

Some other residents spoke of their concern against the pickleball courts for the noise. One man brought in a stereo and presented his points over the sound of a pickleball game, which all could agree made it extremely difficult to hear him. There were few residents in support of the pickleball courts, but the ones who were there were extremely passionate about their sport. I believe the pickleball courts at the Middle School are more than adequate and with fewer residents surrounding the Middle School making them the optimal place for pickleball.

One of the other major topics was the tot lot. The current tot lot is a fun area with lots of structures for toddlers to play and be safe while their parents watch. In the new plan, the tot lot would be moved behind the field so parents could watch their toddlers while their other children play a sports game, however the new tot lot would be half the size of the previous one.

One concerned resident was Piedmont High senior, Samantha Fanger. Fanger has a younger brother who is a huge fan of the tot lot and her concerns, along with other residents, was that so many kids in the one area would be detrimental to the children because of the tiny space and the popularity of the tot lot.

I believe that the new location of the tot lot is an improvement, but the size needs to be close or equal to the current one to accommodate everyone.

The last major topic was the skateboard park that was to be placed right next to the Oakland Avenue Bridge that goes over Linda Avenue. One resident stated, “I would not have moved to this area if I had known a skatepark and pickleball courts would be right next to my house.” Others were concerned for safety of the skateboarders near the tot lot as there is no curb or anything stopping a stray skateboard in the plan.

I believe that there is no other place in Piedmont for this skateboard park given that the one at Coaches Field has limited hours and limited access. Also, given the fact that the skatepark will be right next to a bridge, I would hope that there could be something implemented to absorb the sound. Most of the government officials did not speak in support of or against any idea but instead, thanked everyone for voicing their concerns and for coming to the meeting.

After the meeting, I interviewed Barbara Love, an avid tennis player, pickleball player, and a past resident of the Linda Avenue neighborhood. She was at the meeting to support the new plans for Linda Beach Park and to encourage the two tennis court plan and to oppose the one tennis court plan. She was surprised so many people were against the pickleball courts and had learned more details about the plan that she was previously known of  before. She was shocked by how many people were there in opposition to the plan. Her next step would be to spread the word around to the community to support the plan and put the plan further into action.

I would like to acknowledge the City Council’s efforts in beautifying Piedmont and continuing to do what is best for the citizens. I feel optimistic that the Linda Beach Park will benefit all and will be an excellent feature of Piedmont.

by Kate Gustke, Piedmont High School Senior

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Have you ever tried to use the bathroom at Linda Beach Field? Have you seen the rundown, empty space next to the Oakland Avenue Bridge?

These are two of the issues concerning the Linda Beach Park area that are  being addressed by a new master plan for renovation of the city property.

The Linda Beach Park changes are an important part of the plan, yet would negatively impact some nearby residents. The Piedmont City Council meeting on May 7, 2018 addressed the Linda Beach Field Master Plan content completed so far.

The Piedmont City Council serves the City of Piedmont  by reviewing the city’s department budgets, deciding how to spend the City’s budgets and overseeing City projects.  The Council meets on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month.

The Master Plan is being created by an architectural design team, and is in early stages of development. For this process to move forward, an audit team must make sure that Piedmont is financially able to complete the renovation.

As the City Council meeting began, a member of the outside audit team gave a presentation about the City audit. She reported that the audit went smoothly, and Piedmont is in good shape, however there are insufficient funds currently available for the Linda Beach Field project.

A member of the architectural design team came to the podium to give a presentation on the Master Plan. He led off by saying that the plan is only a 35% conceptual design. Many adjustments are expect to be made to the plan. So far, the field will be left as it is, the tot lot will be moved to the current location of the bathrooms, the tennis courts will be given more space within the fences, and bathrooms will be put on both ends of the Park. Pickleball is a growing sport in the community of Piedmont, so they planned to create eight pickleball courts within the tennis courts. There is also a plan to build a skatepark at the base of the Oakland Avenue Bridge.

The major issues with the plan are the pickleball courts and the skatepark.

While I stated in the meeting that a skatepark would be a cool addition since I enjoy skateboarding, I learned that not everyone would believe that the skatepark would be an improvement for Piedmont.

Many residents complained that these two facilities, pickleball and skateboard,  will create constant noise. The Linda Beach area is at the bottom of a valley with a concrete bridge that amplifies sound. More than three residents came up to the podium to talk about how much these new facilities will pollute their homes with the awful sound of pickleballs being struck and skateboards constantly rolling around. Multiple residents said that they would not have purchased their property had they known that these two changes were planned to be installed.

I believe that installing pickleball courts would cause a constant piercing noise that would echo through the valley and disrupt the lives of all of the neighbors. Installing the courts would be in blatant disregard of the neighbors that live nearby.

I interviewed Dave Johnson, who is a resident that had recently purchased a home on the hill above Linda Beach Field. He had been hearing about the possibility of a renovation project and attended the meeting to learn more about the problems that could be created, and speak about them. He says that he does not know a next step for addressing his issue other than attending the next City Council meeting on the issue and speaking his mind.

This City Council meeting was very informative on the Master Plan for the Linda Beach Field renovation, and gave the people of Piedmont a great opportunity to speak their minds about what could be built in the Beach Field area. The plan holds many improvements for the area, but there are many residents that could have problems with the noise created. I look forward to what is coming in the future for the Beach Field renovation project.

by Grant Keating, Piedmont High School Senior

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Remodelling Linda Beach Park: The Battle Against Noise

On May 7, 2018, the Piedmont City Council met, like they always do on the first and third Mondays of the month, to discuss the early iteration of the plans for the makeover of Linda Beach Park. At the meeting the current plans were shown and critiqued by the Council members, but the most important part of the meeting was the feedback given by Piedmont citizens attending the meeting. It became clear that there is a large divide on how the citizens of Piedmont would like the construction process to go; it is an issue that the City Council will have to take into deep consideration as the process goes forward.

The presentation of the potential plans began with a short recap of Piedmont’s past two audits, which were completed and presented by Auditor Erica Pastor. To summarize Erica’s work, over the past two years Piedmont’s financial record has been relatively clean and in her words: “There were no material weaknesses, no deficiencies, and no major downfalls, meaning that there are no financial worries as the city enters this process.”

Following Erica, the entire 35 percent plan for the Linda Beach Park was presented. The developers wanted to emphasize from the beginning that there would be no additions onto the Linda Beach school buildings, schoolmates, or Linda Beach Field itself, but rather the areas surrounding them. This means they desire to change the tennis court, the tot lot, bathroom, and possibly even add a skating area on the south side of the lot next to the bridge on Oakland Avenue.

The developers then presented their seven areas of focus, or as they called them “guidelines,” for the Park. They told the Council that they want to focus on: park identity, circulation and access, green space, stormwater management, a multi-purpose space, event space, and public art. The intended purpose of these items is to provide a public use, and for the parts of the list which are already incorporated on the lot, like green and event space, they want to expand on those capabilities and maximize the uses of the lot. To accomplish the goals, there will be major changes done to the North and South ends of the lot, while the middle of the Park will remain nearly unchanged since most of the space is taken up by the turf field.

For the North side, there is a large public following of Pickleball, so there will be Pickleball lines added to the Tennis courts, as well as a whole new multi-purpose space and a small plaza filled with public art. As for the South side, the plan is to add a skateboard area and new bleachers facing the turf field allowing parents to comfortably watch their kids play.

There are currently also plans to add new tot lots on both sides of the Park as well as new bathrooms on both sides, so parents don’t have to cross the entire lot and take their kids with them if they need to use the restroom. Following this presentation, citizens of Piedmont were invited to give their input.

Before the meeting began, I interviewed a man named Daniel who was attending the meeting to voice his concerns about the project. Daniel told me that he was worried about the amount of noise that he would be hearing throughout the construction process, as well as after the construction. He was upset with the ideas of adding Pickleball courts and a skateboard area, stating that the noise would be too overwhelming for the area’s residents, as they already deal with the noise of tennis, baseball, and the dog park.

Daniel also disliked the idea of having to suffer through another period of construction since the area had just endured the construction of the townhouses on Linda Avenue. He told me until he gets the peace and quiet he desires, he will continue to attend City Council meetings and relentlessly fight for his side.

Daniel’s thoughts on the matter reflected the ideas of every other resident around Linda Beach Park, as citizen after citizen came to the podium complaining about the constant noise.

However, there were a few avid Pickleball players who were in great support of the addition of the Pickleball courts. These players stated that the public’s desire to play this game that is quickly gaining popularity outweighs the burden of some noise, and they added that the amount of noise being told by the residents was over exaggerated.

During this public section, the Council members showed no preference to either side of the issue, but in the future they will likely be on the side of the Pickleball players, as they have a larger number of supporters.

I believe that it is in the city’s best interest to move ahead with this construction. However, I do understand that the amount of construction and noise is far too high being familiar with residents of the area.  They have spoken about the noise waking them up early and keeping them awake late, and it makes them want to pull out their hair. But, after seeing the final product of the Hampton Field remodel, I would have to side with the Pickleballers, and say that a renovation of the Park would be a great thing for the City of Piedmont, and the City Council should move forward with this plan.

by Ryan Addiego, Piedmont High School Senior

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Potential Linda Beach Project Draws Big Crowd to Piedmont City Council Meeting

The Linda Beach Playfield is a hot topic these days around Piedmont, California.  Its future is currently being decided, and many Piedmont citizens voiced their opinion on the topic on May 7th at the City Council meeting.  The Piedmont City Council meets every first and third Monday of each month. It provides citizens with an update on what the City of Piedmont is currently dealing with, as well as an opportunity for citizens to express their own personal opinions, issues, or advice to the City Council members.

 I attended the May 7th City Council meeting, and before the Linda Beach Playfield was discussed, there was a presentation made about the June 30, 2017 audit that a company had performed on Piedmont.  According to the report, the City had great financing, and quickly after the presentation, the audit report was voted on and accepted by the City Council.

The Council then moved on to the topic of plans for the Linda Beach Playfield.  It was announced that an architecture firm had produced a 35% plan for the changes that would be made to the field. The firm emphasized that they were very early in the process of making changes to the field, and that nothing would be voted on that night.

A representative of the architecture firm gave a presentation that displayed the plan. The main changes proposed were to move and reduce the size of the tot lot, increase the size of the tennis court area and add pickleball courts, build a skatepark near the Oakland Avenue Bridge, and build an additional play area where the tot lot used to be.

The City Council members asked clarifying questions, and participated in the discussion with the citizens, but did not give an obvious opinion for or against the plan.  However, the citizens expressed strong opinions both for and against the proposed changes. Those who supported the new plane argued that the addition of the sport of pickleball would benefit the community by providing another healthy outdoor activity that people of all ages can enjoy.  One citizen brought up a recent pickleball clinic, in which more than eighty Piedmont residents of all ages showed up. He argued that this demonstrated a large amount of interest in the sport of pickleball.

What seemed to be the biggest argument against the plan was the increase in noise that would be created with the addition of pickleball and a skatepark.  One citizen used a speaker to play the sound of a pickleball game, in order to demonstrate how disruptive and intrusive it would be. Another citizen who recently purchased a home near the park, explained that he would not have bought that house had he known about the proposed plans.  Many of the people who were concerned about the noise strongly suggested that the city perform a sound study on the potential effects of the plan.

Before the meeting began, I spoke with Richard Benton, who lives very near the park.  We discussed the proposed plan, and while he was not completely opposed to making changes to the park, he felt like the current plan had many flaws.  He expressed concern about the noise, traffic, and the reduced size of the tot lot. “I have a deck right near the tennis courts, and pickleball would just be too noisy,” Benton said.  At the time, Benton’s plan of action consisted solely of expressing his disapproval of the plan at the meeting.

    While I understand both arguments, I personally believe that the City should listen to the concerns of the homeowners who live near the park.  Living in an area that is noisy is very unpleasant, and could drive away current and future homeowners and devalue the property surrounding the park.  I am in favor of improving the park, but not at the expense of the surrounding families.

by Ben Fujita, Piedmont High School Senior 

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
May 15 2018

On May 2, 2018 in the Piedmont City Council Chambers, the Park Commission met to discuss current and future issues with our public parks and properties. As the crowd slowly filed in, the Commission Chair announced that the meeting had officially started and the small crowd in attendance went silent.

This meeting covered topics in the parks and recreation sector of the government. The main purpose of this meetings was to inform the Commission and public of problems in their parks, take public input, hold discussion, and make recommendations to the City Council and hopefully solve problems. This meeting  happens once a month.

Topics that arise in these meeting are citizen complaints, new park ideas, solutions, and information on the prior month from the Public Works Supervisor, Dave Frankel.  Mr. Frankel talked about what his team has accomplished and provided details on their current projects.

The Commission started the meeting discussing a problem that has occurred on Pala Avenue of residents illegally pruning the trees outside their house. A  couple of residents and their gardeners were caught illegally pruning trees.  They were fined, but they did not accept the fine without a fight. Pruning a tree can kill the tree if not done correctly and can also kill the vibe of the block as the tree is not nearly as beautiful.

Apparently the residents complained that the trees were growing too high and  obstructed their view which they felt could decrease their property value. So the commissioners discussed the possibility of planting new trees on Pala Avenue that would not obstruct the residents view. Dave Frankel suggested  purple plume trees should be planted, because they do not grow above a certain height and would stay out of the way of residents views. All of the commissioners agreed to look into the possibility of new plantings on Pala Avenue in order to satisfy the residents. No one from the crowd spoke for or against this topic.

The other main topic discussed was the trash in Piedmont Park that is left by high school students. This topic was brought up by Lena Flescher, a student speaker, and the topic ended up being one of the main points of the meeting. She told the commissioners that punishment must be enforced in order for students to finally pick up the trash. Nancy Kent, lead staff to the commission, agreed with Lena.  Ms. Kent spoke about this issue as she has already been involved with teachers to try and fix the trash problem. Kent also encouraged the students in attendance to contact her with ideas on ways students can become more involved in the process.

In speaking to Mr. Frankel, I learned he was there because he is required to do a report at the end of each meeting on how his sector of the government is doing and to discuss any problems that he may encounter. They may also call on him in the middle of a meeting to give his professional opinion on something such as which tree would work best in a location. Mr. Frankel did not have any crazy reaction to the meeting as he has sat through many of them and knows exactly what to expect. As for addressing his concerns, Mr. Frankel said he and his crew are going into the park the next day to remove all of the trash.

 by Carson Gerhardy, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 

May 13 2018

Piedmont Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 7:30 p.m., Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue. 

The meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and on the City website under videos for the Recreation Commission. Members of the public can attend and participate in the meeting. 

Agenda includes:

  1. Update on Proposed Schoolmates Staffing Model for 2018-19
  2. Update on Linda Beach Master Plan
  3. Consideration of the Re-Establishment of a Subcommittee on Tennis Court Use, Including Pickleball
  4. Consideration of the Establishment of a Subcommittee on Serving the Needs of the Piedmont Skateboarding Community
  5. Update on Capital Improvement Projects Review Committee (CIP)

READ the full agenda and prior meeting minutes > May Recreation Commission Meeting Packet

May 13 2018
I don’t normally do this, but I’m writing to urge you this week to help support my friend Jeff Bleich, who is running for Lt. Governor in California.
I have known Jeff for two decades and he’s the real deal in every respect. After serving President Obama as Special Counsel in the White House, U.S. Ambassador to Australia, and Chair of the Fulbright Board, and also serving as Chair of the Cal State system, President of the State Bar, leading a major firm, and fighting Ted Cruz and the NRA in Court, he’s taking all of that experience and running for Lt. Governor.
Jeff takes no special interest or SuperPAC support and is running for the right reasons and in the right way. He’s been endorsed by every paper that has weighed in. The Sierra Club calls him “hands down, the best candidate for Lt. Governor of California,” and next generation leaders like Adam Schiff, Ro Khanna, and Ted Lieu have all lined up behind Jeff.
This week is the key week for him to raise money to get his message out before election day. If we want a government with these sorts of leaders, we need to support them when they come along. So please vote for him AND to help ensure his victory, please consider donating to his campaign at: www.jeffbleich.com/donate  You can give up to $7,300.
I can assure you he’s worth investing in. This is how we make democracy work again. Please consider donating today.
                                   Julie Reichle, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 
1 Comment »
May 12 2018

Piedmont has two residents seeking office at the June 5, 2018 Election. 

Jeff Bleich for Lt.  Governor and Melissa Wilk for Alameda County Auditor/Controller.

Image result for Jeff Bleich photos

Jeff Bleich for Lt. Governor 

Learn more about Bleich by clicking on the following links: 

https://www.facebook.com/bleich4lg/

http://www.jeffbleich.com/

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Image result for Melissa Wilk photos

Melissa Wilk for Alameda County Auditor / Controller

Learn more about Wilk be clicking on the following links:

http://melissawilk2018.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MelissaWilk2018/

ELECTION DAY IS JUNE 5th. 

BALLOTS CAN BE CAST NOW IN A PIEDMONT BALLOT BOX ON HIGHLAND WAY BEHIND THE WELLS FARGO BANK. 

May 12 2018

Do you want to join a fun and enthusiastic team of volunteers at Piedmont’s own thrift shop?

Dress Best for Less (DBFL) is  looking for volunteers to help at both the retail store at 3411 Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland and the Marking Room/Donation Center at 799 Magnolia Avenue in Piedmont next to the Piedmont Pool and across from Piedmont High School.

The Donation Center in Piedmont, 799 Magnolia Avenue across from the High School has volunteer openings:

Mondays from 10-12 and Saturdays from 10-12.

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The retail store at 3411 Lakeshore Avenue has volunteer openings:

Thursdays (mornings), Friday (afternoons) and Saturday (afternoons).

Contact President Gayle Sells for more information: 510-654-6193.

With your donations and purchases, DBFL continues to be the largest single donor to the Piedmont Education Foundation. Please think of us when donating your gently used clothing and household decor, books, etc.

Thank you for your support!

May 12 2018

Students Observe Piedmont’s Active Park Commission 

Did you know that it is against code to prune a street tree, and you can be subject to a fine for doing so? Or that our Liquidambars are being slowly replaced by Purple-Leaf Plums, or that one hard working team of individuals is single-handedly saving the paws, ears, and noses of Piedmont dogs? These are things I learned during the May 2 Piedmont Park Commission meeting in the Piedmont City Council Chambers.

While Piedmont residents see the benefits of their work every day, few know of the Piedmont Park Commission, which meets once a month to discuss the flora we place near our streets and in our parks, as well as renovations to Piedmont parks.

    This month, the Piedmont Park Commission met to discuss the replanting of trees in our parks and on our streets, Arbor Day, the Linda Beach Master Plan, and the installation of a new bench. The meeting started with a discussion of the replacement of Liquidambars with Purple-Leaf Plums, and the potential problems that the Liquidambar root systems could cause during removal. The commissioners wanted consistency, and wanted to ensure that the plum was the designated tree for replacement. A commissioner pointed out that using plums would restrict the view of residents less, and a discussion about whether residents and gardeners can prune city-owned trees ensued (They cannot, and can be subject to a fine should they be caught pruning).

    The commissioners then acknowledged the Piedmont Garden Club’s donation to insert strip lighting into a public building. The commissioners commented on its expert illumination of the deck and its both contemporary and traditional aura.

    Moving on from this, the commissioners discussed a new meeting about renovations to the Linda Beach Park. They wish to hold that meeting in the Beach Auditorium, and wanted it to reach specifically the neighborhood near the park as they would be the most affected by the changes. PHS student Lena Fleischer spoke out about this issue, saying that the installation of a new skate park and other attractions would not have too much of an effect on the residents’ quality of life, as they are used to noise from Beach Elementary. The commissioners wanted to encourage walking rather than driving to the park and discussed how an added parking lot would affect these numbers.

    PHS students Katherine Irving and Isa West spoke about the planting of non-native species in Piedmont parks, emphasizing the need for more local plants. PHS student Natasha Yskamp-Long spoke about littering in Piedmont Park, and a discussion ensued about how to best keep students from littering.

     Public Works Supervisor Dave Frankel then gave his monthly maintenance report, in which he discussed the ongoing battle against weeds. In particular, he pointed out that since his team does not use herbicides, they must do all the weeding by hand. I discussed this point with him later, and found that his team is responsible for removing as many foxtails as they can from the dog parks, which reduces the risk of dogs getting infections from embedded foxtails in their paws, ears, and even noses.

     A family I know recently had a dog die from a foxtail, which reached the dog’s brain, so I know firsthand how dangerous these plants can be, and am infinitely grateful for the hard work Frankel and his team put into hand-weeding the parks.

    Frankel then went into further detail about the planting of plums and the replacement of American Elms with London Planes. He then discussed the 5 phases of the removal of American Elms, and that they now have only 4 elms left to remove and replace with London Planes. The Commission then ended with announcements concerning the date of the next Linda Beach plan meeting.

    I interviewed Supervisor of Public Works Dave Frankel. Frankel was not here to speak out on a specific issue.  As supervisor, his job is to give a monthly brief of his team’s work at every Park Commission. This month he brought up the issues of hand-weeding, and how it is taking them a lot more work and time than it would with the use of chemicals. Frankel will be back next month to give another briefing, and will presumably be back for every other Park Commission as well, to inform them of the latest on the removal of trees, replanting of new ones, and destruction of weeds. Frankel thinks the meeting went well.

by Katherine Irving, Piedmont High School Senior

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 Illegal Tampering with Trees Causes Concern

On Wednesday May 2, the Piedmont Park Commission held their monthly meeting in the Piedmont City Council Chambers. The meetings are held to discuss and receive updates on parks, plants and other environmental aspects within Piedmont.

The meeting started off with a report of three damaged trees at 426 Pala Avenue by Nancy Kent, Parks and Projects Manager. It was noted that the trees were decaying and  concern for branch failure with their poor structures. Jim Horner, member of the commission, recommended observing the trees across the street, which are liquidambar styraciflua and are located just underneath the street’s power lines. Horner also recommended removing those three trees now and place them elsewhere. He finished by saying that the planting should be protected when they are being removed.

The first speaker on this issue was Dave Frankel, the Public Works Supervisor, who said that the trees on Pala Avenue were left as they were found and that there was evidence of illegal pruning and topping by previous residents. The neighborhood block contains a large number of liquidambar styraciflua trees, all planted in tight spacing, which has caused decay and water sprout branch tear outs. Frankel recommended that all of the liquidambar trees be replaced with fruitless plum trees because they won’t impact the views from homes like the liquidambar trees do.

The next topic was the acknowledgement of the installation of new LED lighting around the Tea House. In 2016, the Piedmont Garden Club made a generous donation to the city to upgrade the lighting around the Tea House. Unfortunately, when the mature oak tree near the house died and was removed, the small downlights that hung from the tree’s branches were lost. This made the area feel quite dark and lifeless but the recently installed new lighting was made possible thanks to the collaboration with Thomas Skadski of Lumen Works, in which they designed LED lighting that could be mounted underneath the benches to provide a warm glow to help revitalize the edges of the Tea House decks. Finding the right contractor for this was difficult until the staff began working with Schulkamp Electric to install the Community Hall pole lights, where they then discovered Lumen Works.

The last and final topic of the meeting had to do with an update on the Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan. The city had held a neighborhood meeting on April 25 to hear from residents about their opinion of the Linda Beach Tot Lot Master Planning project. The attendance was an impressive 50 residents plus and the preferred 35% master plan, site analysis and existing condition plans were posted around the auditorium for review. The audience was encouraged to voice their concerns and other comments to become a factor in the summary of public opinion, which was presented to the City Council on May 7.

When the meeting concluded, I spoke with Dave Frankel. He is the Park Supervisor and he gives a monthly maintenance report to the Piedmont Park Commission. He wants to inform the Park Commission of the activities of public works staff during the prior month.  He has recently learned of different American Elm trees that he may need remove and to start planting new street trees. He has much respect for the volunteers who are on the Piedmont Park Commission and the amount of time they put in because they aren’t getting paid for doing what they do.  They are taking time out of their lives to help make Piedmont a better place. Frankel will continue doing his job including reporting monthly to the commission as well as now taking into account the concerns that were addressed by students at this meeting.

by Dylan Bradsby, Piedmont High School Senior

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From Trees to Rebellious Pruners, and Everything in Between 

    Upon stepping into a Piedmont Park Commission meeting, it becomes quite evident that this is unlike other government meetings. The sound of impassioned debaters and fiery homeowners all pushing for their beliefs is replaced by the quiet discussion of which trees to plant in the coming year, and updates on the work of Piedmont’s maintenance crew. This government body, which meets once a month in the City Council Chambers, comes together to discuss the parks and plants throughout Piedmont, and any changes or improvements to be made to them.

This particular meeting, on May 2nd 2018, lasted an hour, from 5:30 to 6:30 and had a total of zero disagreements among its participants. The meeting commenced with a discussion about the replacement of dying trees throughout Piedmont, but particularly on Pala Avenue. All of the government officials agreed that an effort needs to be made to ensure the consistency of street trees throughout the neighborhood, so Purple Leaf Plum trees were designated the new street tree for Piedmont. It was decided that these trees would also eventually replace many Liquidambar trees that would soon begin to obstruct views, and will also face issues as they are growing underneath power lines. The Plum Tree were chosen due to their ability to be easily planted amidst Piedmont’s hilly topography, and their low height, which ensures that they do not obstruct any views.

A brief statement was then made about the success of Piedmont’s Arbor Day this year, as well as the success of the LED lights that were donated by the Piedmont Garden Club for the Tea House Bench, which are now installed.

A quick mention was made surrounding the illegal pruning of street trees by residents.  To the surprise of all attending, it was discovered that those caught performing this daring act could be fined, and have been.

Commission Chair Betsy Goodman brought up the hot topic in the meeting -the Linda Beach Park. A meeting was recently held at Egbert W. Beach Elementary School in order to hear the opinions of residents regarding this park renovation. Staff Liaison and Manager of Parks and Projects, Nancy Kent, expressed her enthusiasm regarding the meeting, stating that it was very helpful. Most of the complaints made were surrounding issues with parking, the importance of the tot lot to the neighborhood residents, and issues with the amount of noise a park will attract from people playing sports, skating, and the like.

Piedmont High School Senior and Beach neighborhood resident Lena Fleischer addressed this issue, stating she believed a park would be great for a lot of the local families and children to have a place to play. In addition, she claimed that there was already so much noise coming from Beach Elementary School that a park could hardly turn this neighborhood from a quiet one to a noisy one, when it is already quite noisy.

Next, the issue of trash in Piedmont Park was addressed by Piedmont High School Senior Natasha Yskamp Long. As a frequent user of the park, she has begun to notice high amounts of trash littering it, and even “mountains of hundreds of plastic water bottles.” She credits this increased volume in trash to the lack of follow through regarding the Piedmont Administration’s threat to ban off-campus lunch or get the police involved in the issue.

Student Lena Fleischer then returned to the podium and pitched the idea of hanging up painted signs throughout Piedmont Park to remind students not to litter. Nancy Kent in particular appeared very excited by this idea, and plans were made to discuss it further.

As a Piedmont High student and a member of Piedmont Environmental Club, Natasha’s method, in my opinion, would prove far more effective in eliminating littering in Piedmont Park. I have a more cynical view of the intentions of many of my classmates, and think that handing out detentions to future perpetrators would be much more impactful on the students than signs would be.

Throughout my high school career, I have been a member of two environmental groups, both of which received the fewest number of visitors of any club on club day and have an average turn out of three people during weekly meetings. Although there are many members of the Piedmont High community that care about the environment, the majority do not consider it a high priority, and handing out punishments, such as detention, could have a direct impact on them personally and would show a lot better results.

The last topic brought up at the meeting was that of maintenance. The Piedmont Supervisor for Public Works Dave Frankel updated the room on the extensive and time consuming hand weeding projects that would soon begin in an attempt to avoid using pesticides. In addition, the crew has begun mulching and will soon start planting more London Plane Trees through Piedmont. The staff will begin performing Spring Pathway maintenance and have already fixed a sidewalk and removed a liquidambar tree from Magnolia Avenue.

The Public Works Department has dealt with a couple of Acacia trees that fell down in Piedmont Park, and have pushed back their paving project due to bad weather.   The staff has started their five phase plan for the removal of almost all of the American Elm Trees in Piedmont due to a disease that has impacted most of the trees. There was talk of past replacement of these trees with purported disease resistant Liberty Elm Trees, but this proved to be ineffective as the Liberty Elm Trees were soon infected as well.

After the meeting, I interviewed the aforementioned Piedmont Public Works Supervisor, Dave Frankel, regarding his attendance at the meeting. He said that he attends the Park Commission meetings because it is his job to inform the Parks Commission of the activities of the Public Works Department for the month. He stated that “my concerns are resident concerns.” While he often informs his crew of issues that he sees that need to be taken care of, most of his work is based off of the needs of Piedmont’s residents. Piedmont, it turns out, is a more eventful place than one would think, with Dave Frankel “fielding about 50 calls a day.”  According to Frankel, a big issue he is currently working on is the level of trash in Piedmont Park. Sadly, his team is there almost everyday picking up the trash that should have been disposed of by the students of Piedmont High School. Hopefully, this problem will soon be dealt with by the school so that our helpful public works crew will not have to spend their valuable time picking up after teenagers.

by Isa West, Piedmont High School Senior

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Park Commission: Complaints about Trees Obstructing Views; the Supervisor of Public Works and Students Discuss Park Litter

Last Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 5:30 pm, the Piedmont’s Park Commission held its monthly meeting in the City Council Chambers. The meeting discussed many things, from the status of specific trees to the Linda Beach Master Plan.

The meeting began with a discussion of the compromised/dying liquidamber trees on multiple streets in Piedmont. Members of the Commission discussed replacing them with purple leaf plum trees due to their greater ability to latch onto the soil. Parks and Project Manager, Nancy Kent, mentioned that “A lot of tree problems that you deal with are at the sidewalk level.”

Supervisor of Public Works, Dave Frankel, informed the Commission that Piedmont Public Works has completed the majority of their tree removal/replanting for the year and is making very good progress. The Commission also discussed some aspects of the process, wherein Frankel informed them that the Public Works team takes pictures of the trees that are removed so that they can be put back in the exact same way. He also mentioned that some trees planted in the last few years have not taken well to their environment and which species of trees would be better for planting in the future.

Member Nancy Kent chimed in regarding resident complaints about their views being obstructed by tall trees. Frankel stated that replacing liquidamber trees with leaf plum trees would help solve that problem because liquidamber trees grow to be extremely tall, while leaf plum trees do not grow beyond a certain height. Frankel also said that residents have been illegally pruning trees. A commissioner asked him what the protocol was in that situation. Frankel explained that residents have been fined for illegally pruning trees in the past, although it is rare because the only way to catch someone doing it is when a neighbor calls into report it.

Students, Katherine Irving and Isabella West, spoke during public comment on the need for local species of trees to be planted instead of foreign trees. They explained that local trees are better for the ecosystem. I agree that planting local trees is better than planting foreign trees. Local animals such as birds and rabbits will be able to live better in the environment that they are adapted for.

The Commission also discussed the Linda Beach Master Plan. Student, Lena Fleischer, gave her thoughts on the project. She mentioned the idea of having a mural painted by local residents on the bridge facing Beach Park.

The Commission wrapped up the meeting by discussing the issue of trash being left by Piedmont High School students at the park. They brainstormed ways of encouraging students to throw away their garbage. The commission reasoned that there are plenty of trash cans so it is not a problem of accessibility.

In an interview with Frankel following the meeting, he explained that his job is to “inform the Parks Department of the Public Works Department’s work they have done in the prior month.” He stated that “my concerns are resident concerns” and his team receives “about 50 phone calls a day.” Frankel also mentioned that he has taken pictures of the park after lunch and sent them to Piedmont School District Superintendent Randall Booker in order to provide evidence of the trash left behind by Piedmont High School students. Frankel urged students who attended the meeting to voice their concerns to Booker by email or in person.

By Max West, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors. 
May 9 2018

City Council will discuss the 2018-2019 Budget beginning at 9 am

The Piedmont City Council will consider the proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 at a Saturday work session on May 12, 2018 beginning at 9:00 a.m.  It will be held in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center  – 403 Highland Avenue.

Subsequently, public hearings regarding the proposed budget and the levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Sewer Tax will be held during regularly scheduled City Council meetings on May 21 and June 4, 2018.

The public is invited to attend all of these meetings and speak to the City Council about spending priorities for the city in the coming year.  Click to visit the 2018-2019 Proposed Budget page, where all sections of the budget are available for download.

For questions on contents of the budget, please contact Finance Director Michael Szczech via email at mszczech@piedmont.ca.gov or by phone at (510) 420-3045.

The Council work session on Saturday, May 12, will not be recorded or broadcast, however the public can fully attend the session and make comments at appropriate times. 

May 9 2018

JUNE 5 ELECTION VOTING OPEN NOW!

Voters can cast their June 5, 2018 Election “Vote by Mail Ballots” in Piedmont NOW without going to the polls. Read your ballot information for full instructions.

Piedmont has an available ballot box next to the library return box and postal mailboxes on Highland Way behind the Wells Fargo Bank on Highland Avenue. 

No postage is required when you place your ballot in the Alameda County Ballot Box. See photos below:

Ballot Drop Box

Ballot Drop Box